Disabled Students’ Allowance Reform Scrutinised in Parliament

Date posted: 23rd April 2024

Thomas Pocklington Trust Give Evidence to Education Select Committee  

On Tuesday, 23 April 2024, Tara Chattaway, Head of Education at Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) presented oral evidence to the Education Select Committee in Parliament about the latest Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) reforms.  

The Student Loans Company (SLC) has introduced a new process for students applying for Disabled Students’ Allowance, which came into effect at the end of February 2024. The aim of the new system is to make the DSA journey easier for students.  Study Tech (Sight and Sound) and Capita are responsible for providing needs assessments, assistive technology and assistive technology training in England and Wales.  

TPT welcomes any changes that make it easier for students to receive this important support. This can often be the difference for blind and partially sighted students to access university education.  

Alongside the changes, SLC has also introduced quality standards of which both Study tech and Capita will be held accountable for. If the quality of delivery by either of the suppliers does not meet standards, the SLC should be aware quickly and be able to take action to resolve the issues.  

Tara Chattaway, Head of Education at TPT said: “We welcomed the opportunity to present evidence to the Education Select Committee, as we understand how important DSA is for students in higher education. Through our work we support blind and partially sighted students to navigate university and often hear of their frustrations and struggles with accessing DSA.”   

Also, Tara shared evidence about the experience of DSA for blind and partially sighted students. Questions were raised over the quality of needs assessments, and a need to communicate better to students and professionals about what to expect from the DSA process. We call for transparent reporting about the effectiveness of the changes. We would also like to see a move towards raising the profile of DSA to disabled students before they start university. 

At the committee Tara reported that: “DSA is so important. It’s the difference between somebody staying in university and dropping out and its so important to get that support set up as the student starts university, as early as possible. It goes back to the quality of the needs assessment, taking the time and getting it right. Unless we are measuring the quality of this as part of these changes then we can say these changes are a success because key performance indicators are being met but they aren’t a success for students. The crux for us is what we are measuring success on.” 

We will continue to work with Student Loans Company and the Department for Education to highlight the experiences of blind and partially sighted students. 

We are pleased to be members of the DSA Quality Committee and the Disabled Students’ Stakeholder Group (DSSG). Whilst it is still too early to comment upon the effectiveness of the new reforms, we will be following the implementation of the new system closely and will work with the SLC towards further improvements. 

You can read more about our DSA policy position here 

Read our Education Policy Manager – Lucy Merritt’s article on the recent DSA reforms here 

Watch back on the meeting of the Education Select Committee or access a transcript of the meeting here 

For further information please contact our Education Policy team  at:EducationPolicy@pocklington.org.uk  



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